Republican presidential frontrunner Rudy Giuliani will make his first visit to York County next week when he headlines a GOP dinner fundraiser in Rock Hill, his campaign and local party leaders confirmed Saturday.
The former New York City mayor will make an Oct. 11 stop at the banquet hall that's hosted some of the biggest Republican stars -- the Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek. It's the same place where Vice President Dick Cheney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and conservative commentator Oliver North have spoken in the past two years.
This time, Giuliani won't be here to raise money for himself. The evening event is a fundraiser for the York County Republican Party, said county chairman Glenn McCall. A private reception will be held for top donors, with a buffet dinner and speech to follow. Ticket prices are expected to range between $50 and $150.
Giuliani's planned appearance, first reported Saturday at heraldonline.com, comes during a two-day Palmetto State swing that also will take Giuliani to Myrtle Beach. Other stops will be added, a campaign aide told The Herald.
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Trying to secure the base
Recent polls show Giuliani running first in South Carolina, ahead of Fred Thompson and John McCain. But he still faces questions over whether he can win support from evangelicals who make up the party's base.
Aside from supporting abortion rights, Giuliani is on his third marriage and has a son who says he didn't speak to his father for some time -- the kind of personal baggage that doesn't play well with many religious conservatives.
The doubts help to explain Giuliani's comments Friday during a TV interview with the Christian Broadcast Network.
"I'm guided very, very often about, 'Don't judge others, lest you be judged,'" Giuliani told CBN interviewer David Brody. "I'm guided a lot by the story of the woman that was going to be stoned, and Jesus put the stones down and said, 'He that hasn't sinned, cast the first stone,' and everybody disappeared.
"It seems like nowadays in America, we have people that think they could've passed that test," he said. "And I don't think anybody could've passed that test but Jesus."
In the New Testament story, related in the Gospel of John, Jesus does not actually hold stones. The Pharisees bring Jesus a woman charged with adultery, reminding him the punishment for adultery is stoning. They are testing Jesus in an effort to charge him with breaking the law.
"He's probably in the back of his mind trying to get back in the graces of Christian conservatives," said Jim Watkins, chairman of the York County Democrats and a Presbyterian minister. "I will leave it to Rudy and them to decide whether he's made it."
Trail runs through York County
Giuliani's visit will leave Thompson as the only top-tier GOP contender who hasn't visited York County. Thompson's campaign has indicated to local party members that he'll be here in late October or early November. Romney, McCain, Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback have already made stops.
"I've never seen so many presidential candidates come through this much," said GOP activist Joe St. John of Fort Mill. "Both sides have got them coming. I guess South Carolina plays a lot more (of a role) than people realize."
On the Democratic side, Barack Obama has scheduled a rally for Saturday, though he still hasn't announced a time or venue. Joe Biden speaks at the party headquarters on Monday. Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd also have campaigned in Rock Hill.